COLOMBIA NEWS – At least 13 guerrillas were killed in two separate clashes with the Colombian army early on July 23, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said.
Eight members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) died in an operation in the eastern province of Arauca, and at least five fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group were killed in the central province of Meta, said Pinzón.
“A terrorist presence was detected in these areas trying to attack highways or infrastructure, so the armed forces acted,” he told journalists.
He said the toll could rise as troops continue sweeping the two areas.
The army said in a prepared statement that the operation in Arauca, which also involved the air force, navy and national police, targeted an ELN camp that was “responsible for attacks on civilians, roads and oil infrastructure in recent days.”
Eight ELN fighters were captured in the operation, including several minors who have been handed over to child protection authorities, it said.
One wounded guerrilla was captured in Meta.
The latest fighting comes 10 days after another operation that killed 14 FARC guerrillas in the northwestern region of Antioquia.
The Colombian government and FARC have been holding talks in Cuba since November 2012 aimed at ending the 50-year-old conflict, but no ceasefire has been declared.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who begins his new four-year term on August 7, also has opened preliminary talks with the ELN.
The conflict in Colombia has killed more than 220,000 people and caused more than five million to flee their homes since the ELN and FARC were founded in the 1960s.
Soruces: Colombian Army; Ministry of Defense